European court removes Joma Sison from European Union terrorist blacklist

Press Release
1 October 2009

The European Court of First Instance (ECFI) annulled September 30, 2009, all decisions and a regulation of the Council of the European Union (EU) that had maintained Prof. Jose Maria Sison in its so-called terrorist blacklist.

The removal of the name of Prof. Sison from the blacklist is the essence or main point of the ECFI judgment on Case T-341/07 of Prof. Sison against the Council of EU. It directly unfreezes Sison's funds in his small bank account and allows him to engage in financial dealings like any ordinary person.

To annul the acts of the Council in blacklisting Prof. Sison and freezing his account, the ECFI ruled that the national decisions done in The Netherlands and relied upon by the Council did not relate to the instigation of investigations or prosecution or to a conviction for terrorist activity, contrary to the requirements of European Community Law.

Aside from unfreezing the funds of Prof. Sison, the ECFI judgment opens the way for him to assert and enjoy all his rights that have been restricted or suppressed due to the false charge of terrorism. He can benefit from the judgment in the following ways:

1. To claim back the social payments for living allowance, housing, health insurance and old age pension which have been withdrawn from him since 2002;
2. To seek gainful employment or render professional services with remuneration;
3. To secure legal admission as a refugee and a residence permit;
4. To travel freely without restrictions;
5. To be free from being labelled and stigmatized as a terrorist; and
6. To claim moral and material damages for what he has suffered since 2002.

The International DEFEND Committee is calling on all its adherents, supporters and friends to celebrate the legal victory of Prof. Jose Maria Sison in the European Court and at the same time to become more determined than ever before in demanding that the Dutch government and Council of the EU change their hostile policy towards him.

The Dutch government and the Council of the EU must cease and desist from being the vehicles of false charges and tools of persecution of the US and Philippine governments against Prof. Jose Maria Sison. He must be allowed and encouraged to act freely and fruitfully as the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.###

For reference please contact:
Ruth de Leon
International Coordinator-Committee DEFEND
Telephone: 00-31-30-8895306
Email: defenddemrights@yahoo.com


CAP-CPC supports BAYAN Canada call to help Typhoon Ondoy victims

You have undoubtedly seen the amazing images of the destruction and death in the Philippines that has resulted from Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana). The Centre d'appui aux Philippines / Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC) deplores the deaths and offers its condoleances to the families of the victims. We join with our friends at BAYAN Canada and Migrante organizations in Montreal and across the country to request your help for the victims, who have been abandoned by their own government. (Photo taken in Marikina by King Catoy: Bulatlat)

As a member of the Philippine Solidarity Network in Canada (PSNC), CAP-CPC has been a long-time partner of the National Council of the Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and other Philippine organizations, which are mobilizing relief activities for the victims.

Where to give help

You can connect your local church effort with the churches in the Philippines, particularly through the National Council of Churches of the Philippines who have been consistent in ensuring that help gets to those who need it the most.

People can get in touch with the following BAYAN Canada and Migrante organizations through the following contacts:

BAYAN Canada at e-mail: bayan.canada.noc[at]gmail[dot]com

Migarante International Canada chapter at e-mail: migrantecanada[at]gmail[dot]com

Migrante Sectoral Party coordinator in Canada, Jonathan Canchela at +1 647 833-1023 or email migrantepartylist.toronto[at]gmail[dot]com

BAYAN Canada contacts :
Montreal – Joey Calugay, cell +1 514 947-3662
Ottawa – Yasmeen Maryam, cell +1 613 558-1625
Toronto – Diwa Marcelino, cell +1 416 809-3492
Winnipeg – Jomay Amora-Mercado, cell +1 204 509-2491
Red Deer – Aubrey Makilan, +1 403 392-7178
Vancouver – Beth Dollaga, +1 604 320-0285

For more information please read the press communique from BAYAN Canada:

Also see: Various groups in Philippines launch Ondoy relief operations: BULATLAT

If you have suggestions or questions, please contact the PSNC national coordinator, Malcolm Guy, in Montreal at +1 514 574-9906 or email him at capcpc[at]web[dot]ca

Update: Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana) affects almost 2 million Filipinos


Kapihan: coffee, art and politics at sablo kafé in Montréal to mark anniversary of martial law

BAYAN Canada groups in Montreal and the Centre d'appui aux Philippines / Centre for Philippine Concerns held a Kapihan at the sablo kafé in Montréal on Tuesday, September 22 from 6 pm - 8:30 pm.

It was an evening of coffee, art and politics - Filipino-style as a way of marking the 37th anniversary of the declaration of martial law in the Philippines (September 21, 1972).

At the same time, participants admired Stefan Christoff's photo exhibit, based on his trip to the Philippines for the International Observers Mission in 2007, which is featured to the end of September 2009 at sablo kafé.

See BAYAN Canada September 21, 2009 press release: Never again to martial law!



Press Statement
17 September 2009

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chief Political Consultant - National Democratic Front of the Philippines Negotiating Panel

In their most recent statements, the de facto president Gloria M. Arroyo and her OPAPP secretary Avelino Razon Jr. have paid lip service to peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) only to proclaim the end of peace negotiations and blame the NDFP for their own malicious action.

Despite the extremely hostile pronouncements of Arroyo and Razon, the NDFP Negotiating Panel continues to seek the resumption of formal talks in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and demand respect for and compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and all other bilateral agreements made since 1992.

At the same time, the NDFP is acutely aware of the fact that GRP is hell-bent on seeking the destruction and pacification of the revolutionary movement of the people mainly through the military force of Oplan Bantay Laya and secondarily through psywar pretenses at wishing peace negotiations. The GRP has shown its malevolent scheme in the following ways:

1. It does not want to give up its policy and practice of using false charges of common crimes to demonize, harass, abduct, detain, torture and murder suspected revolutionaries, social activists and the NDFP panelists, consultants, staffers and other JASIG-protected people. It is thus incapable of respecting and complying with the JASIG and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

2. It wants to prevent the negotiation of social, economic and political reforms in accordance with the substantive agenda set forth by The Hague Joint Declaration and the Joint Agreement on the Sequence, Formation and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees. It does not wish the peace negotiations to be a way of addressing the roots of the armed conflict and laying the basis for a just and lasting peace through basic reforms.

3. It wants to front load the end of hostitilies, which is the fourth and last item in the agenda, so that it can actually destroy the peace negotiations as a way of bringing about basic reforms for the benefit of the people. It is obsessed with imposing the framework of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration simply to pacify the people and perpetuate the rotten ruling system of oppression and exploitation.

By all indications, the Arroyo regime does not want the resumption of formal talks in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, unless it realizes immediately its malevolent scheme and attain its malicious objectives against the Filipino people and their struggle for national liberation and democracy.


Coni Ledesma from National Democratic Front meets Montrealers

Coni K. Ledesma, a member of the negotiating panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), with journalist and photographer Stefan Christoff, whose photo exhibit, On movements in Manila, is being presented during September 2009 at the sablo kafé in Montreal. Ledesma was in town as part of a cross-Canada tour at the invitation of the Philippine Solidarity Network and BAYAN Canada to promote the immediate resumption of peace negotiations and to address the NDFP's position on the 2010 Presidential elections in her homeland.

While in Montreal, the NDFP representative also met with the Philippine community, the solidarity group Centre d'appui aux Philippines / Centre for Philippine Concerns and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

Ledesma began her tour in Toronto on September 10, 2009 and will be heading to Ottawa and Winnipeg before wrapping up the trip in Vancouver September 23. MG
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Coni K. Ledesma from National Democratic Front of the Philippines to tour Canada to promote peace talks

In the face of an armed conflict which has been underway in the Philippines for the last forty years, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the underground revolutionary organization, recently announced plans to resume peace negotiations. The last formal discussions were held five years ago.

To talk about these latest peace initiatives, as well as the upcoming elections in the Philippines, Coni K. Ledesma, member of the NDFP Negotiating Panel and a former political prisoner, will be touring Canada September 9 – 23, 2009. She will be in Montreal September 13 – 15, 2009 and is available for interviews.

(PHOTO: Coni Ledesma (head of table in red) with other members of NDFP negotiation panel (left of photo) meet Philippine government representatives in Oslo, Norway for informal talks in October 2003- BULATLAT)

The peace talks, set for the end of August 2009, are presently stalled, with the NDFP negotiating panel accusing the government of failing to comply with agreements made during a meeting of some members of the GRP and NDFP panels on June 15, 2009, particularly regarding immunity from arrest to members, consultants and staff of the NDFP negotiating team.

“Earlier this year the Philippine government promised to lift its so-called suspension of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). Yet only one NDFP consultant, Randall Echanis, has been released, and it was conditional for only six months in gross violation of the terms of JASIG,” said Coni Ledesma. She said that as a result, NDFP consultants, who are still detained and the subject of arrest warrants, have been prevented from participating in the formal peace negotiations which were set to begin in Oslo, Norway.

Filipinos in Canada, along with Canadian citizens concerned about the situation in this Asian country, welcomed the initial announcement of the resumption of negotiations aimed at “resolving the armed conflict” and attaining a “just and lasting peace.” They realize it has been seventeen years since the GRP and the NDFP signed The Hague Joint Declaration containing those twin objectives, and eleven years since the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). This agreement, signed by both parties following intensive discussions, outlined the path to peace while recognizing official belligerent status for the NDFP and its armed component, the New People's Army (NPA).

“With the impact of the global economic crisis on our brothers and sisters at home and the millions of Filipino migrants abroad, the next set of peace talks are crucial since the main part of the agenda will look at basic social and economic reforms in the Philippines,” said Joey Calugay, Secretary General of Bayan Canada, an organization representing progressive Filipinos across Canada.

But Calugay points out that the hindrances to the resumption of talks are major. “Among them are human rights violations, including over 1000 political killings and enforced disappearances of progressive leaders and activists since 2001 in which the military and police have been implicated, and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's declaration to wipe out the insurgents by 2010,” said Calugay. Shortly after a visit in 2002 by then US State Secretary Colin Powell to the Philippines, President Arroyo redeployed troops to various NPA-controlled areas of the Philippines, virtually declaring “all- out war” on the CPP-NPA-NDFP, he said. The NPA is presently active in 70 of the country's 79 provinces.

In the Philippines, the Ecumenical Bishops Forum in the Philippines has come out strongly in favour of the of peace negotiations “to resolve the issues that spawn unrest and civil strife,” in a declaration signed by the co-chairpersons, Most Rev. Deogracias S. Iniguez, Jr. and Bishop Solito K. Toquero. They are joined by other peace advocates such as the Pilgrims for Peace, the Philippine Peace Center, and the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform.

“Our country can attain a just and lasting peace,” Ledesma said, “once the roots of the armed conflict or civil war have been resolved. Concretely, this means ending the control and domination of imperialism over the economy and politics of the Philippines, eliminating feudalism, the system that enslaves the majority of our population, the peasantry, and dismantling what we call bureaucrat capitalism, which we see as the main source of corruption in our society. With these changes, the Philippines can become a truly free, democratic and prosperous country.”

The New People's Army was established in 1969, closely following the reestablishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in December 1968. The Bangsa Moro Army was likewise established by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1971.

Rey Claro Casambre, Executive Director of the Philippine Peace Centre, believes that it was no coincidence that both groups launched their armed resistance against the Philippine government at about the same time. “These were the inevitable outcome of the people suffering intolerable poverty, injustice and oppression over the decades,” Casambre said.

Peace talks have been held before between the government and the MNLF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Peace accords were actually signed between the Philippine government and the MNLF, but problems in implementation and issues of ancestral domain have seen the conflict continue.

The peace talks between the GRP and NDFP appeared to be back on track in 2001 and 2004 and produced two agreements in Oslo, Norway, before they were suspended, along with the JASIG. Subsequently several members of the NDFP negotiating panel were arrested, assassinated or disappeared.

“The recent announcements that formal talks will resume between the GRP and the NDFP rekindled our hopes,” said Casambre. “However, learning from the past we have no illusions that the talks shall now proceed unimpeded.” He pointed out that the formal or substantive talks have been suspended or frozen for about 11 of the last 14 years, with GRP-MILF talks suffering a similar fate.

“We are intent on getting the peace talks back on track,” said Coni Ledesma. “We (the NDFP) intend to propose to the GRP through the Norwegian government that a preparatory meeting between the two sides with their respective lawyers be held in early September in order to produce a written agreement that reaffirms the JASIG and spells out the methods for complying with its stipulations."

“Of course, it is difficult to achieve a just and lasting peace through the peace negotiations alone,” Ledesma continued. “The fact is the forces against social change in the Philippines use all the coercive instruments of the state including the courts, police and armed forces to perpetuate their rule and suppress the people's demand for a free, democratic and prosperous society.”

“In this situation, we believe the people have the right to use all forms of struggle including legal, parliamentary and militant mass actions as well as armed struggle to defend themselves and advance their interests,” Ledesma said.

“I look forward to meeting with my compatriots and with Canadian citizens as well as elected officials during my trip across Canada,” said Ledesma. “I will ask Canadians to help us get the peace negotiations back on track, and if necessary to put pressure on the Philippine government to help make that happen. For the benefit of the people of the Philippines, but also the people of Canada and the world, we continue to strive for a just and lasting peace in our country.” MG

For interviews with Coni K. Ledesma please contact the Centre for Philippine Concerns at: capcpc@web.ca


Photo exhibition: "On movements in Manila"

September 11- 31, 2009
Sablo Kafé **
50 St. Zotique East
Montreal, QC
Téléphone : +1 514 342-2111
E-mail: capcpc[at]web[dot]ca
Free admission

A photo exhibition presenting portraits and visual mediations from Manila, Philippines captured by Stefan Christoff will be showing throughout the month of September 2009 at the Sablo Kafé in Montreal.

The exhibit opens Friday, September 11, 2009 with a vernissage from 7 pm - 10 pm.

In striking colors Christoff’s photos portray moments, symbols and faces from the Philippines, focusing particularly on grassroots social movements.

Present in the photographs is the human impacts of an economic crisis in the Philippines, fueled by corporate globalization and free trade policies.

Today the majority of people in the Philippines live below the poverty line, according to the U.N. more than 15 million people survive on less than one U.S. dollar a day.

In the Philippines extreme economic disparity is leading to increasing political unrest, channeling grassroots support towards revolutionary political parties in the cities and guerrilla movements in the countryside.

In photographs this exhibition offers images that attempt to capture the mood of a country struggling against intense poverty, state corruption and for national liberation.

Co-presented by the Center for Philippine Concerns
** Sablo Kafé is located at the corner of St. Zotique and St. Dominique, close to Metro Beaubien.
See Facebook: http://bit.ly/28WTIN

Une exposition photographique présentant des portraits et des méditations visuelles de Manille, aux Philippines, captées par Stefan Christoff sera présentée tout le mois de septembre 2009 au Kafé Sablo.

Avec des couleurs vives, les photos de Christoff dépeignent des moments, des symboles et des figures des Philippines, se concentrant en particulier sur les mouvements sociaux populaires.

L'impact humain de la crise économique aux Philippines, causé par la mondialisation et les politiques de libre échange, est visible sur les photographies. Aujourd'hui, la majorité de la population aux Philippines vit sous le seuil de pauvreté. D'après l'ONU, plus de 15 millions de personnes survivent avec moins d'un dollar US par jour. L'extrême inégalité économique est un facteur d'instabilité politique grandissante qui accroît le soutien envers les partis politiques révolutionnaires dans les villes et envers les mouvements de guérilla dans les campagnes.

Par la photographie, cette exposition présente des images qui tentent de capturer l'atmosphère d'un pays qui se bat contre une pauvreté extrême, la corruption de l'Etat et pour la libération nationale.

* sur twitter: http://twitter.com/spirodon